With major highways such as Interstate 635 (I-635) and the Central Expressway (US 75) running directly through North Texas, the region sees an immense amount of commercial trucking traffic. A fully loaded tractor trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. To safely operate a large commercial truck, a driver must be properly rested. Fatigued driving is dangerous, negligence, and may even be a violation of federal safety regulations. Here, our Dallas personal injury lawyer highlights the key things to know about the risks posed by fatigued truckers and your legal rights after an accident.
Why Fatigued Driving is So Dangerous
Overly fatigued truckers contribute to a significant number of serious crashes each year. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) estimates that trucker fatigue is a causal factor in as many as thirteen percent of tractor trailer collisions. Why is fatigued trucking so dangerous? Here are some of the notable reasons:
- Impaired Judgment and Poor Decision-Making: Fatigue can cloud a truck driver’s judgment, making it difficult to make quick decisions in dynamic traffic conditions.
- Delayed Reaction Times: Reaction time matters. A drowsy driver has slower reflexes, which can be critical when needing to stop or maneuver suddenly.
- Cognitive Impairment: Fatigue affects cognitive performance. It is a big problem as it can lead to poor attention, lack of concentration, and the inability to process information.
- Increased Risk of Falling Asleep: Fatigue can result in a trucker falling asleep. Even brief lapses in consciousness are extraordinarily dangerous.
Federal Trucking Safety Regulations Limit Service Hours
All commercial trucking that operates in interstate commerce—which is most of the tractor trailers on the road in North Texas—are regulated by federal law. To mitigate the dangers of fatigued driving, the FMCSA has implemented regulations that limit how much a trucker can drive during a given period. Here is an overview of the safety regulations:
- 14-Hour Driving Window: Truck drivers are allowed a period of 14 consecutive hours in which they can drive up to 11 hours after being off duty for 10 or more consecutive hours.
- Mandatory 30-Minute Break: Drivers must take a 30-minute break when they have driven for a period of 8 cumulative hours without at least a 30-minute interruption.
- Weekly 60/70-Hour Limit: Drivers cannot drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days, depending on the schedule that they choose.
Fatigued Driving is Negligent Driving
Beyond the federal safety regulations, Texas requires all motorists to operate their vehicle in a safe manner. Fatigued driving is negligent driving. Notably, Texas is a fault-based motor vehicle accident state, including for commercial truck accidents. A trucker or trucking company can be held legally responsible for a crash caused by fatigued driving. For example, imagine that a trucking company encourages a driver to take an extreme delivery schedule that breached their service hour limits. That trucking company is putting the health and safety of everyone else on the road at risk. It could be legally liable for an accident.
Recovering Compensation After a Semi-Truck Accident in Texas
Hurt in a truck accident caused by an overly fatigued trucker in Dallas? You need compensation to pay your bills and support your family. In Texas, truck accident victims may be entitled to recover compensation for their economic and non-economic damages. Sadly, the big trucking companies and their commercial insurers are not on the side of injured victims—they fight hard to settle cases for less. At The Pennington Firm, our Dallas semi-truck accident lawyer has the professional expertise to help injured victims secure the maximum settlement or verdict. Through a fatigued trucker accident claim, you may be entitled to compensation for:
- Property damage, including automobile repairs;
- Ambulance costs and emergency room care;
- Hospital bills and other medical expenses;
- Physical therapy and rehabilitative care;
- Lost wages and diminished earning power;
- Pain and suffering and mental anguish;
- Disability or disfigurement; and
- Wrongful death.
Contact Our Dallas, TX Semi-Truck Accident Attorney Today
At The Pennington Firm, our Dallas semi-truck accident lawyer is standing by, ready to protect your rights and your interests. If you or your family member was hurt in a collision caused by an overly fatigued truck driver, we are here as a legal resource. Call us now or contact us online for your free, no obligation consultation. From our Dallas law office, we advocate for the rights of truck accident victims throughout North Texas, including in Fort Worth, Garland, and Benbrook.